Flattening a Burl with the CNC Router

The three axis computer controlled router is quite versatile, for tasks from signmaking to inlays. One process where it shines is flattening wood blanks that are too large or too fragile to run through the jointer or thickness planer. In times past I would have used a hand-guided router sled, winding up with a bushel of shavings and a sore back. Now I can secure the blank, write a simple pocketing program, turn on the dust collector and let the machine do the gruntwork. 

 

This piece was a largely end grain slice of maple trunk with burly sections, definitely unsafe to mill with standard machinery. Since it had numerous voids that made the vacuum table ineffective, I dogged it down with screws and oak fingers engaging crevices in the burl's border and wedges underneath to stabilize it. When one face was done, the piece was flipped over to mill a second face parallel with the first. Three similar pieces were done in an hour. 

The old way

The new improved way

 "like a patient etherized upon a table"

"like a patient etherized upon a table"